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May 2, 2011 | by  | in Music |
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Ghost Wave – Self-titled

High fives for bands that kinda sound like those bands from the ’90s that kinda sounded like bands from the ’60s. I’m being a cynical bastard of course, and to be honest I find this aspect of Ghost Wave to be endearing rather than problematic. They are from Auckland, though, so that’s a bit problematic (tiresome Auckland-is-rubbish joke #1).

I’m not reviewing this solely because it’s New Zealand Music Month. Partly, but not solely. In fact, when I first considered writing something in honour of NZMM, my initial instinct was to write a negative review for one of the NZ acts who get shoved in our faces because the people with the money say so, despite the fact that the music they make ranges from uninspired drivel (Barnaby Weir) to total, undiluted shit (Annabel Fay). I’m sure somebody else will be discussing the flaws of the NZ music industry, NZMM, NZ on Air funding, etc., etc., in much greater depth. So, instead, I decided to write about a band who manage to make good music, regardless of their sterile environment (Auckland joke #2), and actually should be given some attention.

So, do you see what I did back there? I wrote a whole thing about how I was considering bitching about shitty NZ bands and stuff, and how I decided not to, but really I was doing it all along. Clever, eh?

Anyway… God… what the hell was I talking about? Ghost Wave! Right… here we go. I wanna use words like summery, danceable, indie-pop but I don’t want you to take that the wrong way. Opening track ‘Sounds’ references The Beatles’ most psychedelic moments. The intricately layered guitar tracks throughout recall the dense guitar work of My Bloody Valentine but without it being an intense noisefest. Standout track ‘Gold’ is equal parts Beck, Supergrass and Gomez (good Gomez).

It could be easy to pass this EP off after a single listen as straight-forward breezy, jangly, guitar rock. However, there’s an intelligence and subtlety behind the songwriting and arrangements which give it a surprising amount of depth. There’s a lot to be said for the production as well. Their songs are deceptively detailed and dense yet manage to maintain a feeling of simplicity. There are moments of Sonic Youth-esque guitar noise which inhabit the background of songs and threaten to become overbearing but to the bands’ credit they exercise a tasteful amount of restraint. It makes this a well-balanced EP which showcases a band with enough nuance to create for themselves a distinctive aesthetic where many other bands of a similar ilk would fall into mediocrity. It’s also the kind of alternative music that could appeal to people who are of the opinion that alternative music is generally wanky. Again, I mean this in a good way.

I spent several months living in Auckland once. It was shit (Auckland joke #3). I’m wholeheartedly against the mentality of supporting New Zealand music just for the sake of supporting New Zealand music. There’s nothing wrong with applying the same critical analysis that you would to an American or British band to a band that’s made up of a bunch of JAFAs (#4…we’ve had a great time right?). If you feel like getting into the spirit of NZMM go find and buy some lesser-known and GOOD New Zealand music. We actually have a lot of really good bands, only not many people have heard of them because all the money went to Autozamm, Opshop and the fucking Feelers.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Jack Riddell says:

    WHAT THE FUCK YOU GOT AGAINST AUCKLAND YOU BACKWARDS CUNT! shit review btw. Bring back James and Kim!

  2. So where do you live now, Timmy? Mummy and daddy’s place in Levin?

  3. karl says:

    Seriously , why not provide a review of the album OR write an intelligent opinion piece about NZ music month and other related issues. This ‘review’ achieves neither and makes you look like a sub-par writer resorting to an (poorly written) unoriginal feelers-are-shit rant.

    We all love to hate the Feelers (including me) however bagging them is the sport of the “I have no opinion of my own or at least if I do I can’t clearly articulate it” set. I prefer to give them no credence or time whatsoever. And working in a badly constructed rant into a review of Ghost Wave seems pointless.

    The bands you mention above are indicative of a funding system that rewards mediocrity, it’s not actually their fault as you seem to imply.

    Why I am responding god only knows but there you go.

    Please try harder , if only for your own sake, if you have any aspiration to be recognised as a credible writer/reviewer going forward.

  4. This was a great review. I’m sure ghostwave would agree that auckland sucks ass, no ones denying that! i know what you mean about ‘good gomez’ thats like one song lol After that last comment i’ve decided i like the feelers now and im gonna go out n get drunk for NZMM cause i just dont give a fuck! if nz indie artists sorted their shit out and came up with some proper hits they would find theres more than enough room up there next to annabel fay. owwwww annabel fay shes so scary with all that money and no hits! Excuses, excuses theres no one to blame but yourselves.

  5. Mattie says:

    You got to push it-this essetnial info that is!

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